BBC ALBA, Cuide Ri Cathy – Jenni Falconer – Monday July 19
Scottish TV presenter Jenni Falconer spends the day with Cathy MacDonald in London and talks about her long route to success in the world of television – plus the story behind her first TV appearance on Blind Date
In the latest programme of the Cuide Ri Cathy series on BBC ALBA, Cathy watches as Jenni trains at the gym for the recent London marathon before they both prepare for the more glamorous surroundings of a charity ball in aid of The Prince’s Trust, hosted by Jenni later that evening.
Before attending the glitzy occasion, Jenni sits down with Cathy to talk about her career so far and her ambitions for the future. As Jenni explains, it was an unconventional route that led her into a future TV career – an appearance on Blind Date. Jenni says: “I was at school and I bunked the afternoon off with loads of my friends and I went to a Blind Date audition. We literally took a complementary afternoon off because Blind Date was one of those shows that we’d go out after watching it on a Saturday night. It was compulsive viewing, it was like the X Factor of the time in a weird kind of way because everyone would talk about it when they went out.”
Although Jenni failed to find romance, she enjoyed the filming so much that she decided to embark on a career in the industry. As a result of a work experience stint on local radio in Leeds, where she was attending university, Jenni postponed her studies after securing her first presenting role as co-host of BBC Scotland show The Big Country, alongside Dougie Vipond.
She said: “It was amazing – I got to skydive, I got to parachute, I got to fly planes over Loch Lomand loop de loop, I got to go on gliders, I got to go riding. The show went on for three years and it was a really brilliant introduction into television.”
Despite returning to university after her role on The Big Country, more presenting work at Yorkshire TV meant that her degree was never to be completed. As Jenni explains, giving up her studies and moving into full-time television was not made any easier by many of her industry colleagues. Jenni explains: “There is a lot of expectation that you’ll fail. There’s a lot of hope that you’ll fail from a lot of people competing, but there weren’t many people of my age presenting and all the ones who were my age were doing children’s television… there was a lot of snobbery from people older than me who couldn’t believe I’d bagged this job. You know, ‘young, getting blonder as I went along….’
“There was a lack of respect from the older people who had been there a long time and had worked as serious documentary makers. Then suddenly this young magazine presenter comes in and says, ‘Hiyaaaaaah, who are we interviewing today?’ They took me aside and said ‘you have got to stop smiling.’ It was an education again and it certainly matured me an incredible amount.”
Jenni does admit that there are a lot of perks to the role, explaining: “I’ve interviewed Tom Cruise around five times but I still get excited every time I meet him. It’s like a dream come true, interviewing people who are in my favourite shows, singing my favourite music. And with live television, anything can happen. That’s always exciting and gives you a bit of an adrenalin rush.”
Looking to the future, Jenni’s sole hope is that her success continues. Jenni says: “You never stop longing for more and you never stop longing to get better, which is crazy really, but you just want to work more and it’s because you love the job so much.”
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Notes to editors:
The interview with Jenni Falconer was produced for BBC ALBA by mneTV, one of Scotland’s leading independent production companies. (For further information see www.mnetv.tv).
BBC ALBA is currently available on Digital Satellite, on Sky 168, Freesat 110 and live on BBC iPlayer. Ten hours of content per week is also available to view on demand via the BBC PC iPlayer and the BBC iPlayer on Cable. For further information see www.bbcalba.co.uk.
BBC ALBA is run by MG ALBA in partnership with the BBC. MG ALBA is the operating name of Seirbheis nam Meadhanan Gàidhlig (Gaelic Media Service). Find out more about MG ALBA and the partnership at www.mgalba.com.